“I’m at the top of the competition,” says Courtney. “If I’m not at THE top, I’m like the top two.” She’s not wrong. Courtney has been soaring high above most of the other Home Cooks in the early stages of this season, but like Icarus, she may just swing too close to one of the stage lights and take a tumble. And when you fall from the ceiling of a gentleman’s club, you end up on the floor of a gentleman’s club, and well, that’s just not a great place to be.
We begin with the news that Other Gordon has fallen ill and has left the competition. That’s sad, because it really looked like he was…named Gordon. I don’t know anything else about him, really. This does explain why he hasn’t used his MasterChef Twitter account. Oh, well. Other Gordon’s gone, and the remaining Home Cooks are one step closer to the title of MasterChef and their very own cookbook. Perhaps this means there won’t be an elimination today.
It’s Mystery Box time, and the One True Gordon warns everyone to be careful. Something is alive under there, and it’s prepared to fight for its life. Jaimee lets out a string of profanities so obscene that her mouth has been removed for the rest of the episode.
“Is it a snake? Is it a snapping turtle?” wonders Christian. Nope. It’s a mesh bag filled with live seafood. “Crab, lobster, clams, phenomenal scallops, oysters, spot prawns, mussels, and a bit of seaweed,” explains Gordon, known scallop philanderer.
Something scurries on Francis’s station, giving him such a fright that he joins Courtney in the rafters. Kira also comes down with a case of the heebie jeebies. “Everything’s real fresh,” she says. “Maybe a little too fresh for my liking.” And just like that, she loses her Subway sponsorship.
They have 60 minutes and start cooking.
“The most intimidating Mystery Box ever,” says Gordon. “Ever,” agrees Graham. “You’re telling me!” says Francis, who has made his way to the roof and is now trying to flag down a helicopter.
Frankie’s doing some kind of tandoori something or other. Christian has all of New Orleans watching him, so he’s making shrimp and grits. Kira is also cooking seafood. Hell, they all are. This is so boring.
We finally get to meet Ahran, the youngest Home Cook in the competition. She thinks Willie is the strongest cook so far. Joe asks about Courtney, and Ahran replies, “Honestly, it’s just a little bit of favoritism with her…” Finally, something interesting happens this episode. “You’re saying that we’re favoring her?” Joe asks. Ahran backpedals, “No, I think that…” Joe isn’t having it. “That’s exactly what you said.” Ahran decides to own it with a “yes,” though she won’t say why they’re favoring her, leaving me to explain: Ahran thinks the judges are being seduced by Courtney. Do they want her to seduce them? Yeah, probably.
Cook, cook, cook.
Time ends and the judges walk around checking the dishes. Graham does a lot of wafting. Courtney thinks her dish is perfect, but Ahran thinks her dish is better than Courtney’s. “My dish is amazing. It’s beautiful. It looks elegant, and I deserve to be here.” But is it seductive enough? Let’s find out.
Frankie gets called forward first with his spicy seafood broth with seared phenomenal scallops. He’s got tandoori mixed with sake, a sort of Middle East meets Eastern East dish. “Normally, I’d call this fusion confusion,” quips Gordon. “But this is fusion at its best.” Joe likes it so much that he can barely stop stuffing his face to get a couple clichés out. “(chewing)…you hit the nail on the head…(sucking on a mussel)…firing on all cylinders…(slurping the dregs from the bowl)…one to watch, guys…(regurgitating into Graham’s mouth)”
Ahran gets called next. She prepared a spicy seafood stew with jasmine rice and a bunch of other stuff. Graham is utterly seduced. He takes a bite and looks to the ceiling where Francis and Courtney wave back. “You made like a seafood boy band,” he says. Quick! Seafood boy band name off: Backstreet Barnacles, ‘N Sink, Jonah Brothers, New Crabs on the Block…
Lastly, Christian makes all of New Orleans proud with his shrimp and grits. “Now y’all know I got a little flavor,” he tells us. “Now y’all know I’m one person that don’t need to be reckoned with.” I reckon Christian is right. Or wait, I don’t. I’m so confused. All I know is that shrimp and grits is probably my favorite food in the world, and his looks damn good.
“I want this so badly,” says Ahran, seducing me with her correct usage of an adverb. She wins and joins the judges in the MasterChef Pantry.
Graham explains, “The theme for this Elimination Challenge is Delicious Sweet Treats.” Ahran says, “Wow.”
Joe reveals a basket of perfectly baked, golden brown muffins. “Wow,” says Ahran.
Graham brings out a jar of delicious cookies. “Oh my gosh,” says Ahran. “I love cookies.”
Gordon pulls out a tray of all-American, beautiful donuts. “Wow,” says Ahran.
When Gordon asks her which competitor she wants to see leave, Ahran suddenly has much more to say. “Honestly, I want to take Courtney out…” Gordon asks her why, and she drops this bomb, “Maybe because I go to high school, and I deal with a lot of fake bitches all the time—” BOOM!! OH NO, SHE DIDN’T!! Not bad, thinks Graham. Joe is loving it. And so am I. This is what I came here for, not all that cooking crap. I want to see blood!
She goes with the donuts. Most of the Home Cooks applaud the choice, but Victoria is cautious. “It’s so technical. If you kill that yeast, you’re screwed. That’s the end of the game right there.” They have 90 minutes to fill a box with a dozen donuts. How many baking challenges have they had already this season? Seems like a lot. Jaimee attempts to shush me but can’t because she no longer has a mouth.
Francis is grabbing everything he can find in the MasterChef Pantry and has plans to make 12 different flavors. “It’s go big, or go biggah!” he says, having pretty much the same view on donuts as he does on fashion.
“You’ve got to scald the milk,” says Graham. “There’s an enzyme in there that will actually destroy the yeast, and you need that dough to almost double in volume.” Whoa, whoa, whoa. I’m not here to learn, Graham. I’m here for delicious donuts filled with blood.
Actually, that was interesting information. I’d like to hear more of this kind of stuff from the judges. Keep up the teaching, Graham. Oh, and unblock me on Twitter for Chrissakes. That’s like, the worst decision you’ve ever made. Only two MasterChef people have ever blocked me: Graham and Krissi. You don’t really want to be alone in a group with Krissi. Do you, Graham?
Courtney is screwed. She forgot to add eggs to her dough and needs to start over; only, she doesn’t have any more yeast. She begins begging the other Home Cooks for some, and one-by-one, they shoot her down. That is, until she asks Francis. Fortunately for Courtney, he is wearing his special orange pants that contain a secret yeast compartment. Technically, it’s a watch pocket, but he keeps yeast in there.
Cutter feels the pressure. Frankie’s donuts didn’t rise, so he rolls them up into balls, attempting to make donut holes instead. Kira is feeling terrible as she forgot to melt her shortening in with the milk. Francis has prosciutto cooking, which is just so Francis.
Cook, cook, cook.
Holy shit, look at Frankie’s donut holes. “They look like meatballs,” says Gordon. “I know I have the flavors, chef,” says Frankie. Meatloaf flavors.
Leslie is doing “unbelievably well.” Kira sneaks a peek at Leslie’s donuts and immediately regrets everything. Gordon calls Leslie a donut, and Leslie agrees, “I’m a donut.”
Time’s up. Hands in the air.
Ahran gets to save one of the cooks, and Frankie is praying that she chooses him. If not, his balls are going home.
“I need to be really strategic and pick out who I’m going to save,” says Ahran, but all strategy goes out the window when she takes one look into Frankie’s puppy dog eyes. The ladies love them some Frankie.
Courtney brings her donuts forward. They don’t look bad, but as for the taste… “They’re salty,” says Gordon, spitting his bite out. “It sounds like you’re sliding down the aerial faster than you got up there.” Okay, Gordon. Let’s leave the aerial dancer jokes to us professionals. Ahran has a lot to say about Courtney’s performance. Unfortunately, she can’t.
Leslie goes next, promising “Malibu sunshine” inside of his box. Elizabeth is really pulling for him. “O. M. G.,” praises Gordon after tasting the sunshine. Leslie nails the donut challenge and appears to be one of the best Home Cooks this season. Things are finally starting to look up for this hardscrabble kid from the mean beaches of Malibu.
Next is Kira. Joe opens the box and says, “Boom! Not too bad at all.” Her donuts look pretty damn good, but Joe cuts into one of her filled donuts to discover no filling. He dismisses them as Kaiser rolls, and we move on.
Victoria brings her box of donuts up, and Graham compliments their simplicity. She’s safe.
Christine presents her donuts. “We’ve got…some perfect-looking ones,” says Gordon. “And some ones that look like you sat on them.” Fortunately for Christine, she sat on them just long enough. They taste good, and she’s safe.
Daniel went to art school, so lets hope he wins this thing. Graham tastes one of his 16 donuts. “You, sir, are a beast with the sugar and yeast,” he says, offering his best line of the season so far.
Scottish Francis and his 12 different-flavored donuts are next. Inside his box are even more colors than we’ve seen him wear. One donut has prosciutto on it. Another has Fruity Pebbles. And another donut might just have Ecto-Cooler icing. Gordon tries the prosciutto donut that is also flavored with Guinness and maple syrup. He loves it. Francis killed this challenge.
Next comes petroleum landman Cutter. “What are they?” asks Joe, looking into the box with confusion. Let’s hope they’re donuts. Cutter promises a dark chocolate and peanut butter filling in one of the donuts, but Joe slices into it to reveal a nothing and nothing filling instead. He slices into another donut with the same result. Cutter instantly regrets not staying in his comfort zone and going with a petroleum filling.
The judges announce the two winners who will be captains in the Team Challenge next week. Francis and Leslie take the honors.
Now for the losers: Kira, Cutter, and Courtney. Joe says someone is going home, so that means that Other Gordon’s illness won’t be saving anyone this week.
Gordon calls Cutter forward. “Cutter. Please. Take your apron—and yourself back to the bench and get a grip.”
That leaves the two ladies. “Kira, we’re struggling to see the passion.” Uh oh. “Tonight’s donuts may have looked visually appealing, but honestly, there’s nothing more frustrating than biting inside and just feeling ten times more let down.” Oh dear.
“I have passion. You haven’t seen me do anything miraculous yet, but I have it. I can show you,” says Kira. We haven’t seen hardly any of her at all. And that’s a shame, because she’s really attractive, and I like looking at attractive people.
Gordon continues, “Courtney, um, you’ve shocked us on many occasions and delivered magic...” (re: seduction) “…but then tonight’s performance, not just lack lust, but one of the stupidest combinations with that level of salt in the dough. It just killed our palates.” Graham presses the stem of his glasses to pursed lips and then removes them. “The person leaving MasterChef tonight—is—” Ahran leans forward. “…Kira.”
With an “oh” and an “okay,” Kira accepts her fate and hugs an apologetic Courtney. With tears beginning to well in her eyes, she tells us, “I feel really sad because I thought there was so much more I could bring to the table…I hope people don’t see the last of me.”
No one wants to be forgotten, but it’s worse to never be known. We didn’t learn anything about Kira this season. There was no back-story of hers that I can recall. She was simply here for a while, and then she was gone. And that sucks. Was her story not worthy of a mention? Was she simply cannon fodder, brought on the show just to be eliminated?
I made a tweet during the show suggesting that the storywriter blew it this episode and then later deleted it because I’m a huge pussy. But, you know what? This was a shitty episode (and as a result, a shitty recap). I understand that it was about Courtney’s arc, but even a small subplot about Kira would have been appreciated. Not your best work, MasterChef producers. Take your aprons back to the bench and get a grip.